University of Montana dedicates new Native American Center

Missoula, Montana (AP) May 2010

A Crow war chief who stole horses from German officers during World War II helped dedicate the Payne Family Native American Center at the University of Montana.

Joe Medicine Crow, wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom, tapped the new building with a coup stick, just as warriors once did when a new lodge, or tepee, was raised.

Medicine Crow was one of several prominent Native Americans who attended the daylong ceremony.

Several of them made reference to Bonnie HeavyRunner, for whom the new building’s soaring glass rotunda is named. HeavyRunner launched the Native American Studies program at UM and died in 1997.

The new facility – the only Native American center of its kind in the country – will house UM’s Department of Native American Studies, American Indian Student Services and related campus programming.